The diplomatic feud between China and Canada continues to brew as a third Canadian citizen has been detained by Beijing in the aftermath of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s arrest in Vancouver. This further complicates any attempt by the two belligerents to diffuse bilateral tensions as China is locked up in a trade war with the United States.
According to Canada’s Global Affairs Ministry, it is aware of the arrest. However, ministry officials declined to comment on its link with Meng Wanzhou’s detention. The ministry gave no further details on the incident, citing privacy legislation. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied any knowledge of the Canadian national’s detention.
Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the ministry said: “I have not heard anything about the situation you have asked about.”
Officials at the Canadian embassy in Beijing also did not confirm the arrest and deferred questions to Ottawa.
The arrest of Meng Wanzhou on December 1 was followed by Chinese authorities detaining Michael Kovrig, former diplomat/ think tank analyst; and businessman Michael Spavor, both Canadian citizens. Canada’s ambassador to China, John McCallum, paid a visit to Spavor on Monday, after previously meeting Kovrig.
Both sides are trying to appear firm with Beijing threatening Canada with “grave consequences”, if Meng is not freed. While Canada’s embassy in Beijing published a commemoration of Charter 08 – a petition calling for democratic reform co-authored by the Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo – on the social media site Weibo. A day later, the post was censored with the comments section being shut down.
The Canadian Embassy in Beijing wrote on Twitter: “We commemorated 10th anniversary of Nobel-laureate Liu Xiaobo’s Charter 08 on social media yesterday”. More than 1300 people shared their views before the comment section was disabled. Xiaobo died last year in prison while serving a harsh 11-year long sentence.
Meng was arrested on December 1, 2018 and faces extradition to the US on charges of fraud and violations of US sanctions on Iran by selling sensitive communications equipment to Tehran. A diplomatic crisis between the two North American neighbors on one side and China on the other has since ensued; the culmination of which is yet to be seen.